Reynoldsburg school bond issue passes

The Reynoldsburg school district’s 4.9-mill bond issue and tax levy for building construction, renovations and maintenance held a slim lead of 186 votes according to unofficial results, with provisional ballots yet to be counted following the March 4 balloting.

At stake is $56 million in local funds, plus another $55 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission for construction of a second high school, a seventh elementary school and refurbishing of the district’s other buildings.

The issue would cost the owner of a $10,000 home an additional $150 a year in taxes.

The results in Franklin County showed the issue failing by a margin of 51 to 48 percent, with 4,350 votes cast against passage and 4,072 in favor.

The district received a boost from residents in Licking County, with 57 percent of voters giving the issue a thumbs up, and 42 percent rejecting passage, 1,699 to 1,235.

Campaign co-chair Len Hartman said the Election Day ballots in Franklin County were about even, with absentee ballots, many of them submitted before the campaign got underway, going about 60 percent to 40 percent against the issue.

He wasn’t surprised by the results from Licking County, which has a large number of families with school-age children.

Proponents had argued that the second high school was necessary to reduce crowing at the present building, which is about 1,000 students over capacity.

Opponents expressed doubt that the district’s enrollment projections justified the construction of the school.

The issue, intended to fund the construction of a high school for grades 9-12 at Summit and Refugee roads, was defeated in 2006, with residents expressing a concern about splitting the community.

Less than a month before the March 4 election, the school board shifted gears and announced its intention to consider other options for the school’s configuration if the bond issue passed.

Hartman thinks that the change in direction helped the issue in Franklin County by assuring people that they would have a voice in how a new school would be planned.

If passage is certified, district officials promised to begin discussions with the community within 60 days, taking up to a year to plan for the new school.

Hartman said he is "wide open" to ideas about the school.

"There needs to be an educational process for the community," Hartman said. "We have the potential to do things we haven’t even thought of yet."

Another decision is on the horizon, with the district expected to ask voters to approve an operating levy in the near future.

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